A Federal High Court has declared as unconstitutional and unlawful, deductions made by the Federal Government from the Federation Account for the funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the pronouncement in a judgement on a suit filed by the Rivers State Government against the Federal Government.
Respondents in the case include the Attorney General of Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and Federal Ministry of Finance.
The Rivers State Government had approached the court seeking an order to stop the deduction of funds from the Federation Account for the funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme.
Rivers State government challenged the constitutionality and validity of section 4(1)(a) and section 4(1)(b) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act 2019, which permit the deduction of 0.5%of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account and be paid to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.
Rivers State had contended that it was not the responsibility of the State governments but that of the Federal Government to fund the Police.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mohammed agreed with the Rivers State Government that by virtue of Section 162 (3) of the Constitution, funds standing to the credit of the Federation Account “can only be distributed among the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Government Councils in each State of Nigeria and not directly to any agency of the Federal Government including the Nigeria Police Force.”
Consequently, the court declared the section of the law “permitting the direct deduction of any sum or percentage of revenue accruing to the Federation Account or which ought to have been paid into the Federation Account for the purpose of providing funds for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund” as “unconstitutional, null and void.”
The Court also orders that all moneys deducted from the federation account belonging to Rivers state be refunded to the state. It held that the other states of the federation cannot benefit from this order but just Rivers.